Tag Archives: classics

The Best Classic Authors Ever

I have an interest in reading some classic authors. I’ve read Shakespeare, Homer, and a limited amount of 19th century literature, but I’d like to read more.

I tried the 99 Classic Books Challenge on List Challenges, and my score was dismal. I’ve only read six of the books. Isn’t that pathetic? There are a couple more in that list that I own, but haven’t read yet.

I need suggestions. I have some questions for you to answer, so please leave them in the comments below.

  1. Which classic author and book do you recommend from the 20th century?
  2. Which classic author and book do you recommend from the 19th century?
  3. How about the 18th century?
  4. 17th century?
  5. 11th to 16th century?
  6. 1st to 10th century?
  7. 1st century BCE and beyond?

If you don’t have an answer for some of these, don’t worry. Leave it blank. I’m looking forward to your answers. Thanks!

Book Review – The Iliad

theiliadThe Iliad

Author: Homer

Series: None

Genre: Classics, Poetry, Mythology

Published 762 BCE

Review Copy: Paperback bought new

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Goodreads Description

The Iliad is the first and the greatest literary achievement of Greek civilization – an epic poem without rival in the literature of the world, and the cornerstone of Western culture.

The story of the Iliad centres on the critical events in the last year of the Trojan War, which lead to Achilleus’ killing of Hektor and determine the fate of Troy. But Homer’s theme is not simply war or heroism. With compassion and humanity, he presents a universal and tragic view of the world, of human life lived under the shadow of suffering and death, set against a vast and largely unpitying divine background. The Iliad is the first of the great tragedies.

Review

The Iliad is an epic poem by Homer that is widely considered a great piece of literature, and certainly one of the oldest. It’s an epic retelling of a historical event, but with a strong emphasis on Greek mythology. The Gods are involved, and they pretty much dictate everything that happens. I can’t really say it’s non-fiction. Equally fascinating and frustrating, this was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever read.

The characters were an interesting combination of bigger than life personalities and gods. The gods had great influence on the actions of the characters, so they didn’t act entirely of their own free will. Many of the characters were extremely strong-willed and very stubborn. So stubborn that they were blinded by it. Achilleus, Hektor, Odysseus, Agamemnon, Priam, and Patroklos are featured heavily in the story, and I have to say that they all had one thing in common: personality. There was very little difference between them. Well, I shouldn’t go that far. Achilleus is a great warrior that everyone fears and no one can defeat. Odysseus (who is the main character in Homer’s followup The Odyssey) is also a great warrior who no one seems to be able to beat. The king, Agamemnon, is also a great warrior that no one has defeated. Do you see a pattern here? The greatest warriors seem untouchable. Hektor, who was one of the Trojans, was the top warrior for them, and again, nearly impossible to defeat. The key here are the gods. They pretty much decided who lived and who died. They played with their lives. They seemed petty and childish. Sometimes, I felt like there were no actual adults, but just a bunch of schoolyard bullies.

The story is a pretty simple one. Mostly battle. Back and forth battle. One side gains an advantage, then the gods decide to give the other side an advantage. There’s very graphic description of the battles, and we learn exactly how each person died, their name, their family history and status, and who killed them. There’s even an entire chapter dedicated to listing the names of the ships, where they’re from, who is on each ship, their family histories, their status, and so on. It’s a huge info dump. And it was easy to get distracted from the story, because there was a lot of repetition. Don’t get me wrong, the story was interesting, it just took a lot of dedication to keep reading.

The language used was the most difficult aspect of this poem. The paragraphs were long, the sentences filled with adjectives describing characters, such as “god-like,” “of the shining helmet,” “son of whatshisname,” and so on. And they were repeated so often, it was overkill. But this was Homer’s style, and it was poetry, not prose. That’s part of what makes it difficult to judge. Poetry is not usually read like a story, but this was a story. The dialogue in The Iliad was incredibly unnatural. No one spoke in conversation, only monologues. They made speeches to each other in place of conversation. And when one person wanted to give someone else a message, the messenger repeated everything word for word.

It’s a difficult book to rate because it’s from a time when writing style was totally different. The story was epic. It was a massive battle with a huge amount of detail. The writing style is difficult to read, so it took me a long time to get through all of it. I had no sympathy for any character, because they were not written in a way that gives us any kind of sympathetic feelings toward them. I went into it not realising how much the gods would factor into it. I felt like there was no unpredictability. We knew where it was going because Zeus said how it was going to go.

But how do I rate this? I’ll have to give it a 3 out of 5. It’s good, but only read this if you are willing to go through a literary experience you’ve never been through before. And no, there is no Trojan Horse in this story. That’s The Aeneid, and apparently only referred to in The Odyssey. Anyway, it takes place after this story ends.

Difficult to Read Books

I enjoy reading books. That’s obvious. I love reading interesting stories. Sometimes, those interesting stories are also difficult to read. But it doesn’t stop me from reading it.

Currently, I’m reading Homer’s The Iliad, which has a much different narration style than I’m used to. Considering it’s very old, styles have changed a lot since then. For one thing, it’s incredibly repetitive. Characters’ titles, fathers, and the world “godlike” are used nearly every time the character is mentioned. Also, dialogue is often a wall of text that’s a page long. Basically, their conversations are long speeches to each other. Not only that, paragraphs are incredibly long, meaning there are few blank spaces on the page. It’s not easy to focus when it’s like that. And when one person wants another to give a message, the message is repeated word-for-word, even if it’s very long. Because of all of this, it’s taking me a long time to read.

I’ve had people tell me they couldn’t finish The Lord of the Rings because Tolkien was far too descriptive. It was information overload. He described everything in detail. But I enjoyed reading it, and didn’t find it difficult.

What are some books you’ve enjoyed, but found difficult to read?

Disney or Original Fairy Tales?

For those of you who have read the original fairy tales that we all know in Disney form, I have a couple questions. I haven’t read any of them, so I’m interested in your impressions.

Which one was the most disturbing?

Which one was the most surprising?

Do you prefer the originals or the Disneyfied versions?

I would like to read them sometime when I have time. Also, are they short?

Shakespeare Is Fun

I enjoy Shakespeare. When I was in high school, we read one Shakespearean play every year, and I found that I actually liked it. I started reading Shakespeare again a couple years ago with Macbeth. I’m now reading the first “new” Shakespeare to me, Julius Caesar. I haven’t read very much at all.

So, I’d like to know a couple things. First, do you like Shakespeare? If you do, then which play is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.

My answer is Hamlet, so far.

Which Classics Should I Read?

Continuing with my short posts that generate a lot of discussion thanks to allergies and a cold combined (which has now moved to my sinuses, resulting in a nearly constant face-ache), I bring to you another question like the one I asked a few hours ago.

This time, classics. I’m going to start reading William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar today, and I’m thinking about what other classics I could read. But not 19th century. I want older. So, what classics from the 18th century or earlier do you recommend? Keep in mind I’m already reading Shakespeare and Homer.

The Classics, Not Just for High School English

Do you like to read classic novels?  Well, I didn’t when I was in school.  Classic novels were for English class, not personal enjoyment.  At least that’s what I thought.  But to be honest, several of them were reasonably enjoyable to read.

I liked Shakespeare.  I still do, and want to read more.  I had to read To Kill a Mockingbird.  I may have been too young to really appreciate the book.  I need to read it again.

I’d like to ask you a question. Do you like to read classic novels?  If so, what do you recommend?